Monday, July 23, 2018

Grab the Train

The hysteria over public transit, particularly in the South hearkens back clearly to Rosa Parks and regardless of the time that has passed, this issue of integrated schools, buses and buildings will never die, unlike Rosa who is.

One of the reasons that transit is so hotly debated as it is here in Nashville is the cost. The insane reality is that we are taxed to the core here to the point of absurdity. Well other than income generating funds or investments, they have in fact dropped here, but newspapers, magazines, food are all taxed regardless and those are constant paper cuts to the poor and working class.

Public transit is just that - public.  It means you are encountering the public from a cross section of life unless of course you live in the South and then no.   The car culture is big here and from across the City both black and white residents are amazed that I rely upon the buses to get me from point A to Z.  Well I walk a lot and in turn rent cars when the weather gets to a point I need a break and it enables me to go outside my limited range that is not adequately served by buses.

And while money was the issue and in turn the problem for why the transit bill failed here it was also because people outside the service areas were largely paying for something that did not serve them and I understood that.  Here in Tennessee the rivalry and idiocy about counties and cities and being served is a major issue of debate and discussion when it comes to funding and appropriation of resources.  Hence that is why the flooding issue has never been resolved as it supposedly "favors" Nashville.  I see as that was the city that sustained the largest damage, is the largest generator of funding dollars in the State so sure let's not ensure that it doesn't happen again and divert precious flood dollars to the City again to build an Amphitheater, which is what they did and the houses outside the city failed to get the money they needed.  So here is the deal, protect the city core and then if and when this happens the money will help those most in need not those most connected.  Oh who are we fucking kidding, this is the South bitches!

Atlanta is often cited here as the most problematic when it comes to traffic and in turn transit. Part of it is due to the bizarre configuration of highways and the way they intersect and connect to each other, even Los Angeles has a better design of interstate highways than what I have seen and experienced here.  I go out of my way and do so when in LA as well to avoid the major roads but here it is a must in order to avoid accidents from the sheer level of bad driving that makes the situation worse.   But it all falls into the idea that cars and driving are essential in Nashville and like the concept of public transit almost everyone agrees that transit sucks so why use it.  I have heard both white and black individuals complain and be incredulous as to my advocacy and use of transit, much of it differs in why.  One is the fear factor the other convenience and that splits across the lines as well. Again my experience here in Nashville always has race as an issue beneath the surface but it is not the primary issue it is about money and class and bus riders are poor and poor is bad.  I can assure you that if home debt is not the number one in people's credit reports, car debt is as well.  All the Black faces here in my apartment own the most expensive cars - we have Jags, BMW's, Mercedes and high end vehicles while almost all the white people drive Nissan's with the exceptions are the two blonde young girls who drive SUV's and both are ironically white in color and likely paid for by parents.  The old white lady however.... and when I rent its economy.   Because in America cars are status and that is important here especially in the South as Status matters the most.  Money and class then God are the priority, know your place and thank God for it.

On the Red Line: A daily racial transformation on MARTA
April 26, 2017
ByMelton Bennett, For The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

This article is part of the AJC's new RE: Race reporting project, which is dedicated to covering both the tensions and the opportunities created by racial and ethnic change in Atlanta and Georgia. Author Melton Bennett responded to a request to readers from the AJC to talk about a time when they felt like an outsider. His is one of four such articles we’re featuring this week.

Taking the MARTA train from the mostly white northern suburbs down to the airport captures a cross section of the racial makeup, and divide, that exists in Atlanta.

As my fellow white passengers and I pull out of North Springs station, we add more white passengers at the next few stations as we pull toward Buckhead. As we enter the heart of the city, African-Americans begin entering the train, and at Five Points, the racial makeup of the train has flipped to predominantly African-American.

I watch as the African-American passengers entering the train look for seats next to other African-Americans, and I watch white passengers seek out other white seat mates. I see the uncomfortable looks of white people who think the black kid dressed like a gang member is going to sit next them, and then the sigh of relief as he passes by.

Mostly, it is then that I notice differences between the people who joined me at my embarkation and the people who have joined in the city. It’s not uncommon for me to watch an impromptu hip hop performance as the train treks south, a performance replete with phrases about violence, sex and race.

The language changes, with poor grammar and offensive profanity being expelled by these groups of passengers, speaking loudly to be heard by everyone, almost as if they must exhibit some cultural difference to a captive audience to make sure they are seen and heard.

The behavior can seem aggressive, with the occasional comment from one of the African-Americans, “Man, we gotta chill. These crackers don’t like that [expletive].” I absolutely feel like an outsider. There is nothing I can say. There is nothing I can do.

Inside, I want to tell them that we are all alike, that sharing constructive conversations and experiences is what builds a bridge to understanding. The hard-core profanity, the unsavory references to females and the derogatory names for white people just force the bridge to be longer.

Of course, this does not represent all African-Americans, in the city or even on the train, but this is not an uncommon experience on my MARTA journey. As I trek down the city, I see the racial differences, see the divides, hear the pain in the rap songs and conversations.

As the train crosses Auburn Avenue, I often wonder what MLK Jr would like to have experienced on the MARTA train in 2017.

Now The Root responded to this and I found it equally incendiary and written to fuel fires not put them out.  One comment did resonate:
Okay, this guy is a tool AND he’s full of shit.

I lived in Alpharetta for five years, and took the MARTA out of North Springs to the airport all the damn time. Yes, black people get on the train more during the downtown bits, along with plenty of white people, Hispanic people, and Asian people. Congratulations on recognizing the obvious, I suppose.

The part that gets me though is how he characterizes that portion of the trip as though he’s entering some sort of exotic foreign land.

My own experiences? People got on and off the train, and it was a boring 45 minute ride to the airport where nothing of note ever happened... aside from that time I dropped my camera and lost it. I’m still sore about that... there were a lot of cool DragonCon photos on it!

Here’s the deal though: by reading this, any white people who decide to use the MARTA in the near future will now be looking for this shit. Even people who don’t actually care about race will suddenly have it on their mind. That’s the most insidious thing about articles like these: they plant seeds in people’s head, and they suddenly become filters for their experiences that bias their outlooks even more than they already might have been.

What we have here is a failure to communicate.  This essay by the author did not clarify how frequently if ever he took the train and during this observational period did he note ages, genders and other significant data that might offer a broader perspective about the passengers? No.  What it did provide was stereotypes and in turn realities of what it is like to ride public transport.  Depending on the time of day and the route taken buses are a reflection of those commuting to work or school versus those during the midday where the passengers are often older, very young and often unemployed.  Again this is one example of why white people here are labeled with the privilege banner and in turn dismissed when they offer their observations about issues largely reflecting their experiences and encounters with those of another race.   I truly never thought about it and became hyper vigilant about this issue until I moved South and then I began to note and categorize those whom I rode the bus with, the students I am in charge of and the times I go to the Dentist office and other service places, such as my coffee shop that has nary a black face as a server and rarely as a customer.   That bothers me on so many levels as again it makes me question the woman I am becoming living here.   The days I choose not seems to enable me to simply live and go about my day benignly content.   But I know the minute school starts all that will fall away.

And I read this comment on a local blogger and prospective school board candidate's blog in response to his missives about the state of the schools.  And for now it is a line clearly divided by race and the card are tossed with little to say in response.  But running for public office changes that dynamic and as he wades into these stormy waters I wish him the best.  But read the comment and note that this woman is an Educator and responsible for teaching what I believe may be Students whose native language is not English.  She is angry, resentful and well barely literate either.

Nope.. ELL scores are attributed to the students and their teachers… nothing to with Kevin and Molly sitting in central office! Neither one of them can answer a question unless it’s on a PowerPoint! Are you really for the teachers or just trying to make a name for yourself?!! I am sick and tired of you singing their praises.

TC have formed my own opinions about you a long time ago. In regards to Kevin, goodbye to his silly story about how was climbing a mountain and how he feels like he needs an IEP to do so. It’s always bad taste and the whole room erupts in laughter. Or how him and Molly had district level required trainings where the trainer referred to students to as “fresh off the boat!” I guess neither one of them- when they were informed- used their white privileged to kick that trainer out. Nope we had days of her loud obnoxious, better than anyone voice. Or the insane about of personal time- they demand out of EL teachers.

Just because your kids go to school with so EL kids and you sat in some board a few years ago doesn’t make you an expert. Do you even know about the WIDA test. How kids take the test in grade bands- and literally it’s the same test in the band. There are so many “practice” test out there. Also, it’s not hard for one student to take a particular test in all three levels within a band and the teacher knows what’s going on. If you get my drift.

Oh one more item… children, especially child of color don’t have to read the damn “the classics!” You are not a teacher and you are not trained to be one.

All you do is stir the pot, I love how when you post something new… all of my “white colleagues” are jumping up and down! Taking about the “truths” you speak! For the love of all things holy, use your damn white privilege to lift someone up because 1/2 of the time you sound a bit racist!

Again this is a blog and I write basically stream of consciousness and rarely edit or revise let alone draft my thoughts which means upon occasion going back later an tweaking and revising my thoughts in which to clarify and tighten the logic and points.  But when I read this rant by the woman  I thought she must be a hell of a Teacher and by that I don't mean one in a good way.  I want nothing to do with the schools and the bullshit that goes on here.  I am exhausted trying to explain this and have someone say:  "Go to Williamson County"  Why don't you?  Fuck you I am not moving I need to be close to Vanderbilt and don't have a car so how is all this going to work for a shitty job that pays garbage?  Is there a point?  I really think people think I am missing being a Teacher and am like a Nun or a Priest where it is a calling to serve.  Bad news no. I have been a Sub longer than I ever was  a Teacher for many of the reasons I have mentioned here - the politics, the bullshit games, the lack of support and the money but never the kids those I had few issues with until I moved here.  Sorry but the systemic poverty, racism, violence  and lack of support for education has finally enabled me to walk away from bothering to even care.  This is what poverty is like and The Bitter Southerner had a great piece on how poverty is a dividing rod between races and it is by intent.  Read it and realize it speaks truths.  Truths here are not welcome in the land of denial.

Grab a bus and train and try meeting or at least seeing your community and in turn learn about yourself.  I laugh all the time about the incredulous response I get when people find out I don't own a car and ride public transport it as if they discovered a new species.    No its called being financially responsible and living within ones means.  My apartment costs enough and to have car payments and maintenance, licensing, gas and other costs associated with something that sits largely unused for most of the day is a waste.  I do rent and I miss car share services like Car2Go but it is what it is and for now I make due.  

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